Stop Injuring Yourself!
Throughout the years, I’ve endured quite a number of injuries. I’ve dealt with plantar fasciitis, wrist sprains and laxity, rotator cuff impingement, and many, many more. All of this down time led to an overall decreased enjoyment in life but I found something to keep my mind occupied – tons of medical literature and discussions found online regarding my various injuries.
So, since 2009, my knowledge regarding the human musculoskeletcal system and the injury-process has grown by volumes. Only if I knew back then what I know now. Screw the pity-party though. We only get stronger and smarter.
However, there are two things that a novice to weightlifting and exercise needs to hear before he or she embarks on the journey to greatness.
Leave Your Ego at the Door and Your Body Will Thank You Later.
This is the first thing I’d tell all fitness newbies to save their joints. If you leave your ego at the door when you walk into the gym, you will exponentially decrease your risk of injury.
Here’s what happens when you exercise with your pride, and not your body:
- You don’t bother learning (and maintaining) proper technique.
- You increase the weight too quickly.
- You feel the need to show off to other gym-goers.
Each of these occurrences is a recipe for disaster. Your body can only tolerate so much load before it starts to break down.
Let me explain. As someone who’s out of shape, your body will be only a fraction of the stress from exercise that an advanced lifter or athlete can handle. This is because over time, the various structures of the musculoskeletal system (your muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones) adapt to stress. So an Olympic weightlifter is going to have denser, stronger joints as opposed to some wimpy kid.
That elite-level athlete did not get there overnight. He (or she) spent years building that magnficient, powerful body. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will you be. Take time with your body, and it will grow. Push it, and you’ll tear, sprain, or rupture something.
Listen To Your Body As It’s A Good Indicator of Injury.
This is the second bit of advice I’d give to novice lifters to keep their joints injury-free. You know why your body feels pain? It’s cause it’s telling you that something’s getting destroyed! That’s why paper cuts sting so much – you’ve got a nice little fissure in your skin, and your body sees that as damage.
As you exercise, the your muscle and collagen fibers are experiencing miniature tears. So on a cellular level, your body is experiencing injury. However, this is all normal as our bodies are in a constant state of breaking-down (AKA catabolism) and repair (AKA anabolism).
Surpass your ability to repair your body and the damage will accumulate. Soon, those microscopic tears will turn into non-microscopic tears. The result – pain and inflammation, partial tears, and/or full-thickness tears. So, when your body starts to hurt after you’ve started a workout regimen, it’s time to scale things back. You’re no longer adapting to this stress, but succumbing to it.
Anyway, once the daily wear-and-tear to your joints is beyond your ability to build new tissue, and your body will take notice. Aches, pains, and burning sensations will develop and your attention will be focused on it. Don’t “work through the pain” like your jackass friends will tell you to. Swallow your pride, accept temporary defeat, and live to fight another day.
I hope this was helpful. Stay strong, newbies.